The early-morning “movie” interacted with the book version of “The Mueller Report” and was seen on millions of electronic devices around the world the morning of July 24.
The star was the book’s author, Robert Mueller, who served as the Special Counsel for two years, examining the Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
Like the book, which has sold well, the movie presented many carefully layered quotes. As the author answered flocks of questions, he often said his answer was in the report.
The Wednesday one-time-only TV show began live at 5:40 a.m. Pacific Coast time and concluded just about 1 p.m. The first three hours plus some overtime was orchestrated by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and then the air time was taken over by the Intelligence Committee.
As the Intelligence Committee hearing drew to a close, Mueller became increasingly stark in his warnings about Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election telling Rep. Peter D. Welch, D-Vermont, “I hope this is not the new normal … but I fear it is.”
The 448-page report thus became an audio-video show, giving listener-viewers much of the information hammered together to build the investigation truths by the Mueller cast.
Many of the Democrats hailed the statement that while a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office, he could be, after he leaves the heavy duty job.
Democrats did get Mueller to confirm the most damaging elements of his findings. Under intense questioning, Mueller said the president had not been cleared of obstructing justice, nor had he been completely exonerated, as President Trump has so often declared.
Mueller said the president had been untruthful in some of his under-oath responses during the probe. He called Trumps’ encouragement of WikiLeaks “problematic,” to say the least.
“It’s not a witch hunt,” Mueller told the Intelligence panel, under questioning from the chairman Representative Adam Schiff of California.
Schiff said Mueller’s sparse answers demanded more aggressive attempts by Congress to investigate the president, an indication that the matter is not over, even if the special counsel is.
WikiLeaks published emails stolen from Russian agents during the 2016 campaign, first from the Democratic National Committee, then from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Trump cheered the group on repeatedly, praised its actions and urged voters to read the purloined communications.
In the second hearing, Democrats approved of a couple of big sound bites.
“The Trump campaign officials built their strategy, their messaging strategy, around those stolen documents?” Schiff said.
Mueller responded: “Generally, that’s true.”
“And then they lied to cover it up?” Schiff asked.
Mueller said, “Generally, that’s true.”
Trump said the Russia probe created a “phony cloud” over his administration and said House Committee hearings featuring testimony from special counsel Mueller were “all nonsense.”
The president said Mueller’s performance was “obviously not very good” and has accused him of not knowing about certain details of his investigation. Trump said it was a “devastating day” for the Democrats.
Mueller said the Russian interference was not a hoax, and it was not an isolated episode. He warned that there should be more robust efforts to guard against future interference.
Schiff said the Democratic investigations will continue.
Mueller summarized the Russian interference investigation with these words: “We spent substantial time ensuring the integrity of the report, understanding that it would be a living message to those who came after us. It is a signal, a flag to those of us who have responsibility to exercise that responsibility, not to let this kind of thing happen again.”